I haven’t done a box office post in ages, mostly because I got so depressed by how well Mission Mangal was doing I couldn’t handle it. But yaaaaay! Two movies I enjoyed and honestly think are good movies are also making money! (as always, figures from bollywoodhungama)
Woooo, box office! I’m gonna get out my calculator and have fun. Starting with the US, War is #9 in the box office and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is #10. Very impressive, this isn’t a big weekend for America (we don’t celebrate Gandhi’s birthday), but there are some decent films out and breaking into the top ten is notable.
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy actually did better than War over the whole week, partly because it had the extra day. But the flipside of that was it did worse by the weekend. I went opening night and it was pretty full. My guess is that by the weekend a lot of people who wanted to see it had already seen it, instead of them all being driven in for that concentrated two days. The fact that it made it to #10 for the weekend anyway is more a sign of how fast the American box office is falling than anything else. Anyway, 295 screens at $2,703 per screen in America. And then there’s War, about $4,000 per screen on 305 screens over the weekend. Again, not that impressive in general, I’ve seen way WAY better numbers, Being #9 at the American box office says that the American box office is dying. If you expand it to the full week, it’s about $5,000 per screen. That’s more impressive, but still not record breaking.
Canada, no shock, War did better than Narasimha Reddy. $11,083 for War, in America that would be amazing, but in Canada it is just very good. Although that is also on 34 screens which is really remarkably high screen count for Canada. And it rocketed War to #7 at the Canadian box office, very very good. Meanwhile Reddy only made about $2,000 per screen on 11 screens, which is really pitiful for the Canadian box office. I guess southern films, even when they are patriotic epics, just will not fly in Canada.
Here’s something interesting! The UK went for Asuran over Narasimha Reddy. They went for War first of all, because Hrithik plays well in England (that hangover from the early 2000s “Bollywood” craze). 94 screens and $2,690 per screen both of which are really remarkable for the UK. But Asuran was on 15 screens and made almost $2,000 per screen, really good for a Tamil film in the UK. And meanwhile poor Narasimha Reddy was on 25 screens and made less than $2,000 per screen. The distributors had a lot of hope there, but it was not fulfilled.
Australia, no shock, Hrithik’s big fun action film was a huge hit. $10,000 per screen on 56 screens. Meanwhile Narasimha Reddy sunk to only $4,000 per screen. The southern market has been growing in Australia, they had some big hits, but this historic epic just isn’t working for them.
And then there’s Germany! Shout out to my German readers! Like the UK, they’ve got that 2000s “Bollywood” hangover that makes Hrithik a familiar face. War came out on 31 screens and made $1,200 per screen which is practically record breaking for Germany. Meanwhile Asuran released on only 2 screens and made $400 per screen, which is more what I am used to.
So, what do we see from all of this? First, the costume epic era is dying down (yaaaaay!) and the audience is swinging back to good wholesome silly star lead films (yaaaaay!). But second, those star lead films have to be a little bit different and a little bit exciting to work. War is an all around well-made action film, and it brings together two stars people are excited to see together. Just putting Hrithik in a movie won’t work, as his series of flops show us. It’s Hrithik in the kind of movie that the audience wants to see him in, a movie that works.
Plus the contrast. The instinct is to lean in to a winning run. Hrithik had a big hit with a serious biopic film, he should do a bunch of biopic serious films! But no, you need diversity. He has a serious biopic film, he follows it with a lighter than air action film. The audience doesn’t have a chance to get tired of him.
Not that Narasimha Reddy did terribly. It did very well in America, the heartland of the southern market. Probably better than reported since a lot of those showings wouldn’t bother officially listing their box office. It just failed to crossover as was hoped into the other markets. Another adjusting back. The southern films have consistently failed to break through into the northern markets (at home or abroad) when there is another option available. Just as the northern films have failed to break through into the southern market when there is another option available. The UK and Australia have both gone for big southern films in the past, but that was when there was no big fun northern film to see instead. As the north has headed more towards “serious” “multiplex” movies, the southern industry has flourished in the overseas market. But this weekend if you wanted to see a big fun movie with songs and action, you can go see old familiar wonderful Hrithik instead of risking something different.
Overall I find this week’s box office very optimistic. It’s saying that happy silly action films with stars are on the rise, which is what I like. There is still the continuing trend that movies in theaters are simply dying and there is nothing to do about it. The per screen count for the weekend is just not good for both films. But if movies are dying, at least they will go out with a bunch of films I like.
(oh, and one thing I want to point out. I just reposted my Zero review which reminded me about how much trouble I got in for arguing that the Zero box office was less about SRK falling and more about movies in general falling. Zero made $3,000 per screen in America and was called a massive humiliating flop. War made $4,000 per screen and is being hailed as a massive hit. It’s perception and expectations and all of that, but the bottom line is that $4,000 is the new “hit” these days and you can’t compare new movies to old box office figures)